The Supreme Court is being asked to hear Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L., involving a student’s freedom of speech while off school grounds.
In urging the justices to hear the case, the school district said administrators around the nation needed a definitive ruling from the Supreme Court on their power to discipline students for what they say away from school.
A high school freshman in Pennsylvania was disappointed that she didn’t make the varsity cheerleading squad and took to Snapchat to post a selfie of herself and a friend, flipping the bird and captioning, “Fuck school fuck softball fuck cheer fuck everything.” A second post said, “Love how me and [another student] get told we need a year of jv before we make varsity but that’s [sic] doesn’t matter to anyone else?”
The school removed her from the jv cheerleading squad because her posts violated team and school rules, which the student acknowledged before joining the team. Those rules required that athletes “have respect for [their] school, coaches, . . . [and] other cheerleaders”; avoid “foul language and inappropriate gestures”; and refrain from sharing “negative information regarding cheerleading, cheerleaders, or coaches . . . on the internet.”